Edward James Olmos
Edward James “Eddie” Olmos is a Mexican-American actor and director. Among his most memorable roles are William Adama in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, Lt. Martin Castillo in Miami Vice, teacher Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver, patriarch Abraham Quintanilla in the film Selena, Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, and narrator El Pachuco in both the stage and film versions of Zoot Suit.
Olmos was born Edward James Olmos in Los Angeles, California, where he was raised, the son of Eleanor and Pedro Olmos, who was a welder. His father was a Mexican immigrant and his mother Mexican American. He grew up wanting to be a professional baseball player and became the Golden State batting champion. In his teen years, he turned to rock and roll, and became the lead singer for a band he named Pacific Ocean, so-called because it was to be “the biggest thing on the West Coast”. He graduated from Montebello High School in 1964. While at Montebello High School, he lost a race for Student Body President to future California Democratic Party Chair Art Torres. For several years Pacific Ocean played various clubs in and around Los Angeles and released a record in 1968. At the same time, he attended classes at East Los Angeles College, including courses in acting.
In the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Olmos branched out from music into acting, appearing in many small productions, until his big break portraying the narrator, called “El Pachuco,” in the play Zoot Suit, which dramatized the World War II-era rioting in California brought about by the tensions between Mexican-Americans and local police. The play moved to Broadway, and Olmos earned a Tony award nomination. He subsequently took the role to the filmed version in 1981, and appeared in many other films including Wolfen, Blade Runner and The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez.
In 1980, Olmos was cast in the post-apocalyptic science fiction film Virus. Directed by Kinji Fukasaku and based on a novel written by Sakyo Komatsu. During this film, he demonstrated his acting talents along side Masao Kusakari, George Kennedy, Robert Vaughn, Chuck Connors, Olivia Hussey, Ken Ogata, Sonny Chiba and Glenn Ford. Most remarkable was Olmos playing a piano while singing a Spanish ballad during the later part of the film. Although not a box office success, the Virus was notable for being the most expensive Japanese film ever made at the time. Akin to Blade Runner, it is a shocking if less than accurate portrayal of a modern day pandemic virus outbreak akin to .